Business Immigration Monthly January 2014

Date: 1/14/2014
 January 2014 Business Immigration Monthly

Next H-1B Quota Opens on April 1 – Employers Should Begin Preparing to File H-1B Quota Petitions Now

The next H-1B quota becomes available on April 1, 2014. The H-1B quota for the next fiscal year will again be limited to 65,000 with an additional 20,000 numbers available for individuals who have earned U.S. Master's or higher degrees. Last year's H-1B quota was met during the initial filing period (April 1, 2013 to April 7, 2013). The USCIS received more than 124,000 filings against the 85,000 available numbers. Due to the improving economy, it is assumed that even more H-1B quota subject petitions will be filed in the upcoming H-1B quota. It is also assumed that the H-1B quota will again be met during the initial filing period. Therefore, employers are encouraged to begin processing their H-1B quota subject petitions at this time so that they are ready to be filed on April 1, 2014.

Additional information about the upcoming H-1B quota will be available in our firm future Immigration Updates when it becomes available.

DOS Releases February 2014 Visa Bulletin – Most Employment-Based Immigrant Visa Categories Continue to Advance

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) recently released its February 2014 Visa Bulletin. In this Visa Bulletin, most employment-based immigrant visa categories continue to advance. As previously predicted by DOS, the EB-2 Indian national category and EB-3 Indian national category did not advance. The DOS previously indicated that it does not believe that these categories will advance much (if at all) in the near future. The most significant advancement was in the EB-3 World category. This category advanced by two months. In the past year, this category has advanced by more than five years. It is not anticipated that this rapid advancement will continue into the future. If demand significantly increases as anticipated, the DOS may not advance the category in the future and may have to retrogress the category in the future. Additionally, the priority date in the EB-3 Chinese national category continued to remain more favorable than the EB-2 Chinese national priority date. It is also assumed that this will not continue in the future if demand in the EB-3 Chinese national category significantly increases as anticipated.

The following is a comparison of the movement in the employment-based immigrant visa categories:

Dec 2007

Jun 2008

Aug 2009

Mar 2010

Nov 2012

Oct 2013

Jan 2014

EB-3 World

09/01/02

03/01/06

U

12/15/02

11/22/06

07/01/10

04/01/12

EB-2 China

01/01/03

04/01/04

10/01/03

07/08/05

09/01/07

09/15/08

12/08/08

EB-3 China

10/15/01

03/22/03

U

12/15/02

04/15/06

07/01/10

04/01/12

EB-2 India

01/01/02

04/01/04

10/01/03

02/01/05

09/01/04

06/15/08

11/15/04

EB-3 India

05/01/01

11/01/01

U

07/01/01

10/22/02

09/22/03

09/01/03

EB-3 Other Workers

10/01/01

01/01/03

U

06/01/01

11/22/06

07/01/10

04/01/12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additional information about movement in the employment-based immigrant visa categories will be contained in our firm's future Immigration Updates as it becomes available.

USCIS Transfers Pending H-1B Petitions from the Vermont Service Center to the California Service Center

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that it is transferring many pending H-1B extension cases from the USCIS Vermont Service Center (VSC) to the California Service Center (CSC) to "balance workloads." The CSC is currently completing initial adjudications of H-1B extensions within approximately six weeks. The VSC is currently taking approximately four to five months to complete initial review of H-1B extensions. By transferring pending cases from the VSC to the CSC, it is assumed that the USCIS is attempting to reduce the VSC's processing time to the USCIS processing goal of two months. Additionally, it is assumed that the USCIS is "balancing workloads" in anticipation of the next H-1B quota season which begins on April 1, 2014. Employers who have petitions transferred from the VSC to the CSC should receive a transfer notice from the USCIS. The transfer notice will have the petition's case number but many times does not contain the name of the beneficiary. Although a case is transferred, the case number will not change.

New E-Verify MOUs Became Effective for Existing Users

USCIS recently reminded employers that use the E-Verify system that the new Memorandums of Uunderstanding (MOU) became effective for existing users on January 8, 2014. Existing users did not need to execute a new MOU. Instead, acceptance of the terms of the new MOUs is through the continued use of the E-Verify system on or after January 8, 2014. The new MOUs have a revision date of June 1, 2013. The MOUs are available for review at www.USCIS.gov\EVerify.

OSC Provides Guidance About Research Universities Having U.S. Citizen Only Hiring Requirements

The U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ) Office of Special Counsel (OSC) recently responded to an inquiry from a university that negotiates sponsored research agreement with non-university parties. The university indicated that the non-university parties asked to restrict participants to U.S. citizens only and is unwilling or unable to provide justification for the restriction. The OSC responded to the inquiry that employers may not institute a hiring preference for U.S. citizens unless required to do so in order to comply with a law, regulation, executive order or government contract. The OSC stated that it encourages employers considering such a restriction to ensure that it is properly implementing the restriction. The OSC stated that if such restriction is improperly required, the employer can be subject to, among other sanctions, civil penalty fines, reporting requirements and back pay.

For more information about this or any other immigration law topic, please contact Bob White, at 847.734.8811 or via email at rwhite@masudafunai.com.

Weekly Immigration Updates are provided under the Legal Update link of the Immigration Group Section of our firm's website at www.masudafunai.com.